Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“My Tom Hanks is out there, and I’m not going to settle until I find him.”

I’m not going to lie to you all, I have been dreading writing this review. This is probably the book that has disappointed me the most in 2019, so far. I thought it was going to be a cute romcom about a girl, working on a movie set, falling in love. And I suppose it was, but it also has so much bad and infuriating things also in this story.

Waiting for Tom Hanks is about a girl named Annie who (you guessed it) is in search of her life’s romcom hero, who she thinks she deserves to be swept off her feet by. And what better way to look for prospects, than to work on a movie that your uncle pulls strings for you to be the director’s new assistant. And on her first day at set, she meets Drew, the star of this romcom that is being filmed.

“If there was ever a man who was the complete and polar opposite of Tom Hanks, it would be Drew Danforth.”

The best character was easily Annie’s uncle, Don, who was probably pansexual, but the author didn’t put it on page. But he also runs a weekly D&D group, and you all know that is very much something I am passionate about. Also, he was just kind hearted, and showed unconditional love, and I truly always wanted the best for him.

The second best character was Chloe, who is Annie’s best friend, and who is on page bisexual. I have no idea why she would be friends with Annie, but I am happy she was part of the story, and I’m happy the author is going to write about her in the next book.

Annie was just the worst, and being in her head was so unpleasant to read from. From fake *wokeness* to white feminism, to just being dramatic and jumping to so many ridiculous conclusions, from pity party to just doing so many hurtful and dumb things, she is easily the worst main character I’ve read about in 2019. Annie needs to learn boundaries, and respect, and *plot twist* at the end of this book was so horrible, that I can’t even believe that beta readers would not say how horrible it felt to read.

I suppose I should talk more about the white feminism in this book. The white director wanting to film a movie about an interracial relationship, because he is now in an interracial relationship felt really bad. You should want to promote diversity all the time, in all walks of life, not just went it mirrors your life and impacts you and your white-self. Every single time Drew talked about being a feminist because of his feminist mom and how he opened doors and walked girls home made me want to die. Even though I did feel bad for Drew through most of this, because Annie was so insufferable. Also, all the main characters in this book are white! To keep bringing up how *woke* you are, when your entire book is about two heterosexual people, who are white, with all white friends, it doesn’t feel good to read. Especially when the only person of color is a very minor side character (yet, the star of the very movie) who was only written to help the main character very awkwardly at the end of this book. Telling and showing are two very different things, and when you put such an emphasis on telling, while never showing, it makes for a really horrible reading experience. Bringing up how whitewashed media is constantly is just going to make your whitewashed book more obvious.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me. I should have known by the 100th Tom Hanks metaphor by page 50 to just DNF this, but I didn’t. There are so many other amazing romcoms out there, many of which are also being published through Berkley. I just really wouldn’t waste your time on this one, unless you like hurtful main characters, who think they deserve the world, and Tom Hanks movies getting brought up every page.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and Trigger Warnings for loss of a loved one and talk of cheating in the past (not MCs).

Buddy read with Alexa, Madalyn, & Amy! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday | Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!


Hey, friends! Long time, no Top Ten Tuesday! But oh my word, it feels so good to be back! Especially with a topic as good as this week’s! There are so many good books coming out during the last half of 2019, but I am still going to make a top ten ranking of the ten I absolutely cannot wait for, with a single sentence each that hopefully tells you why!


➽ 10.) Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Because anything LGBTQIAP+ with bookstores and witches will always get my money.


➽ 9.) The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill

Because few things in life make me happier than The Tea Dragon Society!


➽ 8.) Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper and Fire #2) by Natasha Ngan

Because seeing an ownvoices queer, Asian book, staring a f/f romance, make The New York Times Best Seller list is all I’ve ever wanted, and all I continue to want.


➽ 7.) The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World #1) by Rin Chupeco

Because Rin Chupeco answers all my prayers!


➽ 6.) Dead Voices (Small Spaces #2) by Katherine Arden

Because Katherine Arden is my lyrical writing bae, forever.


➽ 5.) His Hideous Heart

Because this is the anthology to end all other anthologies, because of Rin Chupeco and Kendare Blake reimagining Edgar Allan Poe.


➽ 4.) Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga #1) by Paul Krueger

Because this is a Filipino author, inspired by his love of anime.


➽ 3.) Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) by Tamsyn Muir

Because, yes, I’ve already read this, but it’s my favorite debut of all time and you all need lesbian necromancers in your life, damn it!


➽ 2.) Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Because I’m that bitch, but you all are, too!


➽ 1.) The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

Because this wouldn’t be a Meltotheany list without a Holly Black as my #1!



Okay, friends! I hope you enjoyed this half as much as I did writing it up! Please, let me know what is your most anticipated release for the last half of the year! And, as always, I’m wishing you all the happiest of reading!

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Dragons & Tea Book Club | July Pick

dragons & tea

Hey, loves! Okay, today we are announcing our July pick for the #DragonsAndTeaBookClub! We picked an ownvoices Muslim story, all about love and the importance of being seen. This story is told in alternating points of view, through letters between two teens, while one of them is staying with family in Qatar for two weeks! Both main characters are PoC, one being Trini-Pakistani, and other being biracial (Chinese and white)! Also, one of these characters have Multiple Sclerosis, which is something that is very near and dear to my family’s heart. But this is also a story about Islamophobia, and how it can be quiet and it can be loud, but it is always so hurtful and hateful. 💗

And we hope that you all will join us in our Goodreads Group, too! 🐉☕

But we also will be celebrating and talking with you all on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


But without further ado, our July pick is:

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali 

The Dates & Breakdown:
July 8th: (Pages 1 – 68) Zayneb Saturday March 9
Oddity: Unpredictable Creatures
July 9th: (Pages 69 – 134) Adam Tuesday March 12
Marvel: Strangers
July 10th: (Pages 135 – 207) Adam Sunday March 17
Marvel: Zayneb at the Perfect Place
July 11th: (Pages 208 – 276) Zayneb Tuesday Marc 19
Oddity… And Marvel: Plotters
July 12th: (Pages 277 – End)

Content and Trigger Warnings:
Islamophobia, racist micro-aggression, cultural appropriation, chronic illness, talk of family death, mention of rape, discussion of war and war victims.
(Thanks to Fadwa’s beautiful ownvoices review!)

 Other OwnVoices Reviews (that I love):
شيماء
Noura


And if you’d like to be friends with me and Amy on any other platform:
🐉☕ Melanie: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads

 

The Savior (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #17) by J.R. Ward

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“Grief is a cold stream you acclimate to.”

Friends, we are seventeen books into this series, there is barely anything I can possibly say that isn’t spoilery! But I will say that I have been reading this series since I was very young, and I look forward to a new BDB book every single year, and the Savior was no exception!

The basic premise of this series is that in the Black Dagger Brotherhood we follow a bunch of powerful vampires, that are in an elite group that protects humans, vampires, angels, and a bunch of other paranormal entities, and they all live in this big mansion, and they all are one big family that’s just saving the world. And, because we are seventeen books in, each book focuses on a new member (or soon to be or maybe one day possibly becoming a member), while an older member (who has already had their own book) has a side storyline going on as well!

This book focuses primarily on Murhder, who has been talked about and hinted at for so very many books leading up to this one. He was kicked out of the BDB back in the day, and in this book we get to see why and what happened after he left. Sadly, it was very much based on miscommunication, and I didn’t love it very much.

The other star of this book is Sarah, who I actually really did like. I won’t lie, the instalove was real in this romance, but I still just really enjoyed it for some reason. Plus, Sarah, who is a scientist, trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious coverup that happened many years ago, was fascinating, and I loved the mystery and watching it unfold.

And the side storyline going on is about John Matthew, who is (sadly) my least favorite brother. And Xhex, who is Jon Matthews partner, is also one of my least favorite characters, and I hated how she didn’t speak up in this book and let someone else take the blame for something. Like, it felt really bad, and it really ensured their place as my least favorite couple in this world. Also, the bandage that was placed on the situation for the easiest fix ever? Felt horrible.

Overall, I just feel like this wasn’t as strong of a book. Like, almost to the point that you could completely take out this book and it wouldn’t impact the storyline whatsoever, which is never a good feeling. I am very excited for book eighteen, but this one wasn’t even close to being one of my favorite books. Also, that romantic haircut? Lord, please, no, never. I know this review is really vague, and I’m sorry for that, but if you’re looking for a PNR romance, filled with alpha vampires, a lot of romance, and a lot of sex, I totally think you should give this series a try! Also, I am hoping we get more of my favorite fallen angel in the next one, because the world deserves more Lassiter, and I also hope to see more of my favorite literary cat.

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Content and Trigger Warnings for medical experimentation on humans/vampires, torture, captivity, abuse, talk of loss of a loved one, talk of cancer, talk of thoughts of suicide, use of language like “females” and “males” being the norm, and war themes.

Buddy read with my best friend Paloma! ❤

1.) Dark Lover ★★★★★
2.) Lover Eternal ★★★★★
3.) Lover Awakened ★★★★★
4.) Lover Revealed ★★★★★
5.) Lover Unbound ★★★★★
6.) Lover Enshrined ★★★★
7.) Lover Avenged ★★★
8.) Lover Mine ★★★★
9.) Lover Unleashed ★★★
10.) Lover Reborn ★★★★
11.) Lover at Last ★★★★★
12.) The King ★★★★★
13.) The Shadows ★★★★★
14.) The Beast ★★★★
15.) The Chosen ★★★★
16.) The Thief ★★★★

Cherry Pie by Madison Faye

Goodreads | Amazon US

“I kept bidding in the ensuing online silent auction, until for a million dollars, she, and her innocence, were mine.”

*Cues Def Leppard Warrant* Friends, I know, I know. Look, I just wanted something smutty, fun, and quick, and Cherry Pie for sure delivered on all fronts. I did enjoy the sex scenes, I just sadly didn’t love the plot, and I especially didn’t love the ending, but If you are looking for something fast and sexy, I still recommend this.

This is a story all about a girl named Kendall who has found herself in dire need of money, to pay for her upcoming freshman year of college, and she is presented with the option of selling her virginity online, during a silent auction for an underground sex club in LA. Her face will not be pictured, but her body will be on display, which means her new cherry tattoo is also able to be viewed.

Marshall lives a very luxurious life, that he has built for himself from the ground up, while also being the only parent in his daughter’s life. He appears to be on the straight and narrow path, but he indulges in the underground sex club, where he stumbles upon the silent auction and decides that he has to bid on this anonymous woman’s virginity.

This is a taboo, age-gap romance, involving a forty-two-year-old man and an eighteen-year-old girl… and she just happens to be his daughter’s best friend. See, I was really invested with this premise, but once I found out that guy had known the girl since she was five, because they were neighbors, that’s when I started getting really uninvested. I am never here for grooming-feeling stories, and every time that aspect of their relationship was brought up, I just hated it.

But the sex itself, even if highly unrealistic of someone’s first time, was really enjoyable. Sometimes, Marshall would continue to use the adjective “little” and it was bothersome, but besides that, I did enjoy all the sex scenes in this book very much. It was the plot, more specially the portion with the daughter/best friend, that was really unbelievable, which is really saying something when this is a 200-page story about a girl selling her virginity online.

I think this book really would have benefited from just having steamy sex, but the author tried to have a concrete story so desperately, and it really didn’t fit this book. Also, it got into instalove territory, which was also upsetting. I wish that sometimes authors could just give us some amazing sex scenes and stories, without having to make everything about everlasting love.

But again, I think you kind of know what you’re getting into when buying a book like this, and it totally served its purpose and I am happy I picked it up. Also, I would totally be down trying more from this author in the future. But please let me know if you have read and enjoyed anything else by them!

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Content and Trigger Warnings for abandonment and use of language like “little girl” and things that like that, that could totally make the reader (myself very much included) uncomfortable.

I read this for #smutathon, which is being hosted by Lainey and Riley! ❤

Buddy read with Paloma! ❤

 

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, & Kelly Link

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Ghost of the Shadow Market is truly my favorite anthology set in the Shadowhunter universe, so far. Each story is so different, so unique, and really transcends all time periods, all generations, and all of my expectations. I loved this, friends.

And this bind-up is all about Brother Zachariah, former Silent brother, and all the different shadow markets through the ages and through our world. And, again, you get to see glimpses of all the different generations of Shadowhunters in all of the different time periods. I read the first eight stories in 2018, but I just finished off the last two since the collection is now out in the world! And I truly recommend this anthology to any and every Shadowhunter fan.

I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating! I would highly recommend that you are caught up with Queen of Air and Darkness and everything previously published, before reading this anthology and before reading this review! Spoilers ahead! Please use caution!


Son of the Dawn – ★★★★

“Every world contains other worlds within it.”

It is official, The New York City Shadow Market is the coolest one we’ve seen so far? Abandoned theater? Ahhh, the aesthetics. But this story takes place in 2000, and I will be honest with you all, I sure in the hell wasn’t expecting a story about how Jace came to join the Lightwood family. Damn, my emotions are all over the place, because seeing Raphael alone makes me weep. Also, I think it was really smart for Cassie Clare to show us a “good” side of Robert Lightwood, especially after finishing Lord of Shadows. Also, all that talk of parabatai bonds? Lord, help us all. But I think my sappy self cried hardest over two initials. Okay, I know this brief review is all over the place, but this was such an unexpected treat and I was smiling while reading this entire story. From Izzy watching Alec discover who he is, to me crying even more over Max, to Jace being Jace even at a young age, to Lily Chen actually making me laugh out loud, to me screaming at seeing Raphael confirming that he is ace, I love all of this. And even just seeing Raphael come to Brother Zachariah for help and to go on what ends up being such a meaningful adventure, that really impacts all their lives eventually, it was just amazing. I really loved this short story and I think it was such an amazing glimpse at the past, that really makes you appreciate the future so much more.


Cast Long Shadows – ★★

“Old sins cast long shadows.”

Okay, I’m still hyped for The Last Hours though, but I think it is mostly for James Herondale, even though Matthew Fairchild is such a little sweetheart. I loved seeing him interact with Brother Zachariah, and loving him just because so many of his loved ones love him. I love that feeling, and I think that’s something in life that I experience a lot that books rarely depict. But in this short story takes place in London 1901, and we get to see Matthew dealing with something that’s really bothering him, while willing to do anything to find out the truth. Oh, and Alastair Carstairs is such a little jerk, but I know Cassie is going to give him a homelife (and a father, I think) that is going to make us feel a lot of empathy toward him. But why the hell is Sophie (my queen, still) and Gideon’s kid friends with him? Yet, I love seeing Henry’s disability rep, I love seeing Charlotte say fuck your misogyny to the Clave, and I just love seeing all these glimpses at old friendships that we already love, but also all the new glimpses at what is to come. And seeing Jem, Will, and Tessa living their lives after Clockwork Princess will never not equal parts break my heart and heal my soul. And yeah, I’m still crying over that staff. Lord, help me.


Every Exquisite Thing – ★★★★

“Foolish people say so many things. But we know who we are…”

Anna Lightwood deserves the entire galaxy and all the stars within it, please spread the word. Like, the child of Cecily and Gabriel is a true blessing to the Shadowhunter universe. And the end of this made me happier than any other Shadowhunter short story I’ve ever read. In short, this story is love letter to nonbinary people, and we get to follow Anna embracing being a genderfluid lesbian. Even though everyone knows that queer people existed all throughout history, this story highlights how it was harder to come out back in the 1900s. But seeing Anna live their best life was everything and it warmed my heart so very much. And, again, Cassie Clare is just being more and more inclusive and she impresses me so very much. And there is f/f romance in this story, too! But the heart of this story is identity and being the person you are on the inside on the outside, too. Okay, I’m done gushing; this story we also get to see Anna and Matthew explore the London nightlife and meet a woman named Leopolda in a club and bring to ask a few questions. And soon, them and Brother Zachariah are trying to figure out what she’s up to. And I think that we are soon going to get a lot more background story on Tessa, and I cannot wait for The Last Hours, friends. It is going to be so amazing, and now Anna is going to make me even more excited!


Learn about Loss – ★★★★

“I want you to give them both a span of time. Both of them in a time and place where they can be young and happy and together.”

Current mood: Forever weeping over the masterpiece that is the end of this short story. You all, Will and Jem will always be best friend goals, and honestly are the definition of platonic unconditional pure love. (I mean, I won’t go into my polyamorous wants because Cassie Clare didn’t bless us!) But friends, this story just has a lot in it that I really appreciated. And I loved this dark carnival Shadow Market. This story is set in 1936 Tennessee, during the end of the Great Depression, and not only do we follow Brother Zachariah, but also the soon-to-be Iron Sister, Emilia, who easily stole my heart. And Sister Emilia’s promise? Goosebumps. Perfection. Also, I think these stories are really going to make an impact for QoAaD.


A Deeper Love – ★★★

“…those two twin souls, the only souls she had ever loved.”

Friends, I was not expecting a WWII story set in London that starred Tessa Gray and Catarina Loss working as nurses. But oh my gosh, it was so beautifully and hauntingly unexpected. And there is still a Shadow Market that they bargain at, but even the paranormal war is impacted (both positively and negatively) by war. And Brother Zachariah just happens to be at the Shadow Market, where bombs are dropping from the sky, while he gets into his own altercation with a fae who thinks he is meddling in affairs that do not involve him. And I believe the point of this story was that we get to see that weapon poison that Julian and Emma deal with in Lady Midnight. I also cried for probably a third of this just because Brother Zachariah and Tessa both dealing with loss, while healing and living with love, just guts me every time. It’s so pure, and so hopefully, and just gives me all the feelings under the sun. The power of love is something so strong, and this story just left me in awe, honestly.


The Wicked Ones – ★★★

“They’d both given a piece of their hearts to a Herondale. And they both loved someone they could not have.”

Oh, boy. So, this story is set in 1989 Paris, where we meet a young girl named Céline and get to see the uprising of Valentine. Céline has constantly run away from her abusive home, and the parents that torture her and call it love. And when she was eight years old, she ran away and felt safe and at home for the very first time – at the Paris Shadow Market. But in this story we see her almost ten years later, and she is desperately trying to feel welcome with Valentine and his elite crew. And she is also realizing she is completely and utterly in love with Stephen Herondale. But while this is going on, Brother Zachariah is in search of a lost necklace and a lost child. This story really dives deep into how manipulative people can gaslight to get what they want, and will always try to isolate people and convince them that what they are doing is in their best interest. It is always really interesting to see the rise and fall of Valentine Morgenstern, but this story just made me feel really sad for Amatis and for another child who has yet to be born.


The Land I Lost – ★★★★★

“Your voice is the music I love best in all the world.”

First and foremost, it is very obvious that Lily Chen is not straight, but Cassie Clare confirmed on Tumblr that she is pan! The blessings. The actual blessings. Also, hello, my new favorite character. Lily is half Japanese and half Chinese, and was made a vampire under the saddest of circumstances. And her love for Raphael Santiago warms my black heart like nothing else in the entire Shadowhunter world. And even though I could go on forever about my love for her, this story is more about her and Alec going to the Buenos Aires Institute together because Jem and Tessa are in need of help, and someone requested Alec personally. This story is actually pretty dark, so content and trigger warnings for abandonment, captivity, sex trafficking, sex slavery, and war themes. Nothing is graphic, but it is very much talked about, so please use caution. But Alec soon finds out that the Buenos Aires Institute is being heavily influenced by Horace Dearborn, and they are allowing children whose parents were killed in the Dark War to be orphans living on the street, just because they are Downworlders. Alec then comes across a Shadowhunter child who they are also unwilling to help, and the other Downworlders are too scared to bring in, therefore he must take action. You all, this novella was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Seeing Magnus and Alec be such good fathers to Max, and then adopting their second child, Rafe, it is something I don’t even have words for. And they are allowing their children to be whatever they want to be, Warlock or Shadowhunter, and will never stop giving them unconditional love. Even just seeing glimpses of Jace and Izzy being an uncle and an aunt had me smiling so big! It is a joy to read, pure joy. But we learn so much during this longer addition to the anthology, too. All the information we got of/from Mother Hawthorn? Damn.


Through Blood, Through Fire – ★★★★

“But we bear so much that seems unthinkable. The only truly unbearable burden is living without love.”

Okay, I won’t lie, even though I have loved watching Brother Zachariah go on this quest of finding the lost Herondale, I feel like it is my least favorite aspect of this anthology. And even though this short story gave us major insight on Rosemary and Jack, it wasn’t a big surprise after reading The Wicked Ones. But then, once the story catches up to the events at the end of Lady Midnight, and Tessa drops the REAL information of this story. You all, my jaw dropped. And my eyes? The tears won’t stop coming after that last paragraph. Wow, the blessings. The happiness. The everything. Queen of Air and Darkness can’t come soon enough.


Ghosts of Old Loves – ★★★★

“A boy, a Carpathian lynx, and a ghost.”

This story starts out with Ty in Scholomance, but we get to see it through the eyes of Livvy. Yeah, my heart is officially breaking, too. We also get to meet Irene, a new animal companion that I already love. And we get to see a little glimpse into Idris and how Zara and Manuel are holding down their bigoted fort. Livvy is learning to do so much with her ghost form, and I know she is only just beginning to discover her powers, while also being bound to Ty. I am also incredibly excited for Ty to write some letters.


Forever Fallen – ★★★★★

“Memories were like love: wound and cure, both at once.”

Daddy Jem is best Jem. Oh my word, I am not even exaggerating when I say that I cried through this entire short story. Perfection, pure perfection, to the very powerful last line. This story is set in 2013, and we get to see two very different families in juxtaposition with one another. One being Jem, Tessa, Kit, and baby Mina! The other being Ash, Thule Jace (AKA: Janus), and wishfully hoping that Clary will soon join them. The story switches points of view, back and forth, but both storylines are completely captivating and immersive. We see Kit realize that Jem and Tessa love him more than anything, while finally feeling found and safe. We see Janus is willing to do anything to have Clary’s love, and he will probably wreak havoc in the three years leading up to The Wicked Powers to attempt to claim it. Also seeing Lily react to Thule Raphael’s actions, and seeing Thule Raphael’s reaction to what happened to Thule Lily, it just broke me in the best way possible. This story was the perfect concluding story for this anthology, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to wait for what is to come next.


I gave Ghosts of the Shadow Market 4 stars overall, because out of a possible 50 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 10 stories) this collection accumulated 38 stars (76%)!

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